Anxiety is associated with hormonal and metabolic profile in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2011 Nov;75(5):698-703. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04122.x.


Background: Increased prevalence of psychological morbidities, including anxiety, depression and eating disorders, has been reported in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in comparison with normal ovulating, nonhyperandrogenemic women.

Aim of the study: To investigate the relationship between the degree of anxiety, depression and eating disorders via self-reported symptoms and the severity of hormonal and metabolic aberrations in women with PCOS. For this purpose, the PCOS cohort was subdivided into three subgroups according to the degree of anxiety.

Methods: One hundred and thirty women with PCOS of similar age and BMI were studied. In each subject, hormonal and metabolic status as well as psychological profile was assessed with the use of specific questionnaires. Specifically, anxiety (trait and state) was assessed with the use of STAI-T and STAI-S, while depression and eating disorders were evaluated with the use of the Beck Depression Inventory and the Eating Attitudes test, respectively.

Results: The subgroups did not differ in age and BMI. Subjects with the highest STAI-S compared with those with the lowest STAI-S displayed significantly higher the homeostasis assessment model-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and free androgen index values (P < 0·05), respectively. Regarding trait anxiety, assessed by STAI-T, HOMA-IR values were significantly elevated (P < 0·05) in the subgroup with the higher STAI-T score compared with the HOMA-IR in the group with the lower STAI-T score.

Conclusions: In women with PCOS, the degree of anxiety, state and trait (STAI-S, STAI-T) appears to vary in a pattern similar to that of hyperandrogenemia and insulin resistance, independently of age and BMI. The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the association of psychological morbidities with androgen excess and insulin resistance in PCOS remain to be elucidated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Anxiety / metabolism
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / etiology
  • Hyperandrogenism / metabolism
  • Hyperandrogenism / psychology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult